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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

NC State didn't help us out last night by beating North Carolina, so they got Chron'd.

I_medium The second-ranked Louisville baseball team is headed to Oxford this weekend for a top 25 showdown series with Ole Miss. Here's your preview.

I_medium Cardiac Hill recaps last night's Pitt loss.

I_medium Pete Nochta. Savage. Beautiful.

I_medium A very happy birthday to Samaki Walker, who turns 40 today.

Forty. We are all so f---ing old. Except for you kids in high school who are reading this during your free period. You should be studying. Also, what's Damn Daniel all about?

I_medium Everything's good. I'm drinking coffee and thinking about Deng Adel's dunk. And then I open up my email to see this:

Selection Sunday is getting bigger.  The NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show, featuring the exclusive, live first-time announcement of the pairings for the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, is expanding to two hours.  Turner Sports and CBS Sports will begin the road to the 2016 Final Four with the newly expanded show, airing Sunday, March 13, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

The bigger Selection Show will feature more analysis, more discussion, more interviews and more reactions from teams as they learn their seed, region and opponent.  Ernie Johnson will join Greg Gumbel to host the show from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.  Clark KelloggCharles BarkleyKenny SmithSeth Davis and Doug Gottlieb will provide analysis breaking down the bracket.  Previously, the one-hour Selection Show aired from 6-7 p.m.

I am one "the cast of Saved by the Bell is getting back together to sing the National Anthem at the Final Four" announcement away from breaking.

I_medium Luke Winn's latest power rankings from Sports Illustrated have Louisville ranked under "self-imposed ineligibility, but still quite good" which means he would have them in the top 16, but didn't want to devote the time necessary for a cool tidbit to a team that can't win the national title. His factoid on No. 1 Kansas, however, is fascinating.

I_medium The Sporting News examines every ACC team's worst season from over the past 30 years. For Louisville, that season is Denny Crum's final campaign.

I_medium Dick Vitale again voices his frustration with this Louisville team being kept out of the 2016 postseason.

The decision by the administration to self-impose the penalty sold out innocent kids. I understand that it was an effort to receive a more lenient punishment when the ongoing investigation in completed. There is no guarantee that Louisville won't receive more harsh penalties down the line. It will take some time before the NCAA completes the investigation, so why penalize these innocent kids? They have competed so hard this season.

The system has got to change. I know it was the school's decision to self-impose, but hurting this current team, which had nothing to do with the allegations, is wrong. Do not punish innocent people for the sins of others. What did these kids do wrong?

If you want to really hurt an institution and provide a deterrent for the future, slap a huge fine. Make the school write out a check for $25 million, hit them where it hurts, the bottom line, the wallet.

It is a real shame because these kids have performed with a lot of pride for the name on the front of the uniform. Given the parity of college basketball today, and Pitino's success in the big dance, the Cardinals would have had a chance to make some noise in the tournament.

I_medium The ACC men's swimming and diving championships are going down this week in Greensboro. Louisville enters its second ACC Championship as the No. 13 team nationally, while No. 18 North Carolina, No. 19 Duke and No 24. Virginia Tech are also ranked.

I_medium Louisville native Bryce Yates has been named the national 7th grade Player of the Year by a website that charts that sort of thing. Hopefully he can star for the Cardinals in a few years.

I_medium Take that friend you have who could never, ever learn from their mistakes, now give that person enough acid to kill a rhinoceros and you have the Cleveland Browns.

I_medium James Burgess, like the rest of the world, strongly disagreed with the targeting call that left him ejected from his final college football game after just one play.

I_medium The Louisville lacrosse team rolled up Vanderbilt earlier this week.

I_medium Andrea Adelson examines how Louisville can make it to the ACC championship game in 2016.

How they make the ACC championship game: Louisville returns one of the most experienced teams in the ACC, with 18 starters back -- including dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson. If he can continue where he left off after a stunning performance against Texas A&M, the Cardinals will be in great position to try to take down both Florida State and Clemson. One of the biggest issues this team had last season was an inability to go with one quarterback. So stability at that position will be huge to Louisville's quest toward winning the ACC. Meanwhile, the top four rushers all return, and the top 10 receivers on the two-deep all return, giving Jackson plenty of talented skill players to work with as they try to up their production. Defensively, Louisville must deal with the loss of Sheldon Rankins, but the Cards got huge news when DeAngelo Brown, Devonte Fields, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Keith Kelsey all decided they would return to school for their senior seasons. Fields led the team in sacks and tackles for loss; Kelsey is the backbone of the defense; Brown is needed to anchor a defensive line losing two starters. And the entire secondary returns. This is a defensive unit that ranked in the Top 4 in the ACC in four major statistical categories, so they should be better in 2016 with eight starters back.

What's holding them back: Among the issues the Louisville offense dealt with last season, the biggest was on the offensive line -- a unit that struggled for a majority of the season. Their improvement and development is going to be absolutely huge for Louisville to get where it wants to go. How much better will this group be? Jackson showed glimpses of intrigue last season, but will he be able to hold down the starting job for the entire season? Will his passing performance improve? Jackson completed only 55 percent of his passes a year ago and threw eight interceptions to 12 touchdowns. With Kyle Bolin still around and the addition of ESPN 300 quarterback Jawon Pass, Jackson is going to have to hold off some tough competition to keep his job. As for the defense, there is plenty to celebrate with all the returning starters back. But how Louisville replaces Sheldon Rankins is perhaps the biggest question mark for this team. Rankins quietly did his job, and he did it well -- so well that it might have been easy for outsiders to overlook his performance. Given the limited-experienced depth at defensive end, Louisville may end up using multiple players just to make up for what they are losing with Rankins. If they can't find an answer, this will be an area offenses will exploit.

I_medium The promotional schedule for the U of L softball team's 2016 home slate has been released.

I_medium After his off game against Louisville, Brandon Ingram received a fitting analogy from Coach K.

I_medium Don't keep e-cigarettes in your pocket or they might blow up, burn your leg and put you on every website on the Internet.

I_medium Roy Williams says he would have a serious problem with leaving North Carolina amid an unresolved NCAA case.

Days after he strongly refuted speculation that he might consider retiring after this season, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he'd have a "hard time" leaving amid an unresolved NCAA investigation that continues to drag on.

"I don't ever want to leave when things - when I leave I want it to be in good shape," Williams said Tuesday. "And for me, this would have been a very hard time to leave."

Williams, 65, spent part of his press conference after UNC's 96-71 win over Miami on Saturday admonishing Doug Gottlieb, a CBS college basketball analyst, after Gottlieb speculated during a national broadcast that Williams could be on the verge of retiring amid health problems and the ongoing NCAA infractions case.

Gottlieb suggested during a CBS pregame show that Hubert Davis, one of Williams' assistant coaches, could be in line to become Williams' successor. Williams called Gottlieb's commentary "sinful."

"You have no freakin' idea what you're talking about," Williams said, referencing Gottlieb, after Saturday's game.

I_medium Speaking of Gottlieb, there are rumors all over the place that he might be the next head coach at Oklahoma State. If that happens, Louisville needs to do whatever it takes to get the Cowboys on the 2016-17 schedule.

I would probably have a more volatile mixture of emotions for that game than I do for the Kentucky game. Or at least it would be similar. It would be close. It wouldn't be close, but it would be different from all the other games.

I_medium Chinanu Onuaku is at No. 42 and Damion Lee is No. 46 in the latest mock NBA draft from Draft Express.

I_medium From one champion to another.

I_medium Jennifer Lawrence is the youngest person ever to have four Oscar nominations.

I_medium I found out yesterday that you get kicked out of the country if you don't write at least one story on Ben Simmons and LSU, so I penned this.

I_medium Given the number of games that teams play and the strength of Louisville's conference (and previous conferences ... at least one of them), this is a pretty remarkable statistic:

I_medium If you enjoyed the idea of O.J. Simpson's "If I did It" book then you'll love ESPN's feature on how Louisville would do in the NCAA Tournament if they weren't ineligible.

As a No. 4 seed in the current Lunardi bracket, BPI projects Louisville has about a 59 percent chance to make the Sweet 16, a 20 percent chance to make the Final Four and a 6 percent chance to win it all.

For perspective, playing out the tournament with the current field (excluding Louisville), there are nine teams with a better chance to make the Sweet 16, six teams with a higher chance to make the Final Four and five teams (North CarolinaVillanovaVirginiaOklahoma andMichigan State) more likely to win the championship.

No team has greater than a 15 percent chance to win the title, so in a year without a clear-cut favorite, could the Cardinals have come from that 6 percent chance to win the national championship? The only thing we know is we'll never know for sure.


I_medium And finally, John Ramsey is off for the next two days so I'm flying solo on R&R this afternoon from 3-6. You can listen live here or call 605-477-9680 to listen on your phone without using any data. Please call in and keep me company.